Christian Smith sent home a 27th-minute penalty before Bradley Bubb found himself unmarked in the area to level just nine minutes later. Joe Ward’s corner was then met by Marvin Ekpiteta on the stroke of half-time before Josh Huggins equalised in acrobatic fashion before Rohdell Gordon’s deflected strike secured the vital three points for the Clarets.
City manager Mark Hawkes made the bold decision to replace goalkeeper Niklas Freund – who made some crucial saves in the Clarets’ recent 4-1 FA Cup win over Whitehawk – with Tony Thompson, recently signed on a one month’s loan from Sky Bet Championship side Rotherham United.
The 19-year-old Millers’ goalkeeper signed loan terms on Wednesday evening and was chucked right in at the deep end by the City chief as City came up against a Havant side who were on a six match unbeaten League run that stretched back to September 6th. Frontman Luke Callander had to sit out the match with a minor hamstring injury.
And the City chief was thoroughly delighted with the goalkeeper's performance and praised the youngster for the way in which he coped with being handed his first start.
"He was absolutely superb. He's made three good saves, a tremendous block on the line, and his kicking is superb.
"His kicking is superb and he'll be happy with his performance."
Hawkes also paid testament to his squad, while also praising their fine away form thus far.
"Not only the victory and to win away from home, but to come to Havant, an exceptional side, [and] to come and score three goals deserves credit," he added.
"It was a thoroughly professional performance. We made good use of the ball when we had it and we didn't have much of it.
"It's not without its faults, because they came out of the traps and could have been in front within the opening five or ten minutes. We weathered that, like at St Albans. We were good value for the win."
Havant’s Josh Huggins spared the Clarets’ blushes in the opening minute when his cross-cum-shot flashed wide of the goal. Scott Donnely came closer still shortly after when he latched onto JJ Hooper’s intuitive back-heel, only to be denied by the hands of Tony Thompson who terrifically tipped it over the bar.
The Clarets struggled to get a foot on the ball in the early stages and, in truth, saw hardly any of the ball in the opening ten minutes.
And it’s proved more often than not that it’s difficult to increase the intensity and high-level performance following a sluggish start. But the Clarets were determined to prove that judgement wrong.
The momentum remained with the Hawks for the time being however and, but for Leon Redwood’s timely interception inside the area, Nic Ciardini may have broken the deadlock as he ran onto an inventive reverse pass.
Joe Ward then took advantage of a lapse in concentration from Ed Harris following a short goal kick, and the City winger threaded a pass into Michael Cheek. City’s top scorer could have taken it first time but his initial touch allowed the Hawks to re-group and eventually thwart the attack.
But the tide turned when City were awarded a penalty – their fifth in five consecutive matches and sixth in seven games – after Lee Sawyer was caught by the leg of Ed Harris. It was a little harsh on Havant who shaded the early stages, but nonetheless Christian Smith stepped up to the spot and emphatically converted it low into the corner.
The Clarets then sat back on their lead somewhat, promoting a wave of Havant attacks. Eventually the banks burst when JJ Hooper made his way to the by-line, eventually cutting the ball back to the unmarked Bradley Bubb who calmly slotted home at the far post.
But just moments before half-time the Clarets regained the lead after the hosts conceded a cheap corner. Joe Ward’s set-piece was met powerfully by the head of Marvin Ekpiteta – who was drafted into central defence in the place of the injured Mark Haines – as he recorded his first goal for the club.
Havant came out of the break looking to overturn the 2-1 deficit and had Tony Thompson scrambling when Nic Ciardini watched on as his chipped shot floated narrowly wide of the post.
Ed Harris then attempted to make up for his foul that resulted in the visitor’s opening goal when he connected with Scott Donnelly’s floated free-kick, but he nodded a couple of yards wide.
Just shy of the hour mark Havant had their equaliser – perhaps on the basis of their second-half dominance it was deserved – when Brian Stock’s clipped cross into the box was acrobatically met by Josh Huggins. The shot looked to have been curling wide but it instead nestled just inside the post, almost slow motion, as they drew level once more.
Havant then continued to press but the Clarets produced the winner out of nowhere as Rohdell Gordon’s shot took at least two deflections on its way to goal as it wrong footed Ryan Young who could do little to prevent the net from bulging.
Havant attempted to claw their way back into the match and search for a third equaliser, but were denied by a world-class save from debutant Tony Thompson who tipped over Alan Connell’s header over the bar.
JJ Hooper then fluffed his lines following Shamir Mullings’ pin-point cross. He got the ball caught under his feet and was then denied by Tony Thompson, who was on the floor, as the City keeper kept the lead intact.
The Hawks just struggled to find the killer pass and a devastating touch to suit as the Clarets made the trip back to Essex in high spirits with the three points signed, sealed and delivered.
Havant & Waterlooville:
1. Ryan Young (C)
2. Dan Strugnell
3. Warren Cummings
4. Brian Stock
5. Brian Dutton
6. Ed Harris
7. Nic Ciardini
8. Scott Donnelly
9. JJ Hooper
10. Bradley Bubb
11. Josh Huggins
12. Perry Ryan
14. Alan Connell (On for Nic Ciardini, 72)
15. Daniel Blanchett
16. Shamir Mullings (On for Bradley Bubb, 81)
17. Ben Swallow (On for Josh Huggins, 89)
1. Tony Thompson
2. James Love
3. Leon Redwood
4. Mark Hughes (C)
5. Marvin Ekpiteta
6. Yado Mambo
7. Lee Sawyer
8. Joe Ward
9. Rohell Gordon
10. Michael Cheek
11. Christian Smith
12. Harry Morgan
14. Nicky Nicolau (On for Rohdell Gordon, 85)
15. Evans Kouassi
16. Rob Girdlestone (On for Joe Ward, 90)
19. Niklas Freund (GK)
Referee: Mr. Rob Hyde (London)
Assistant Referees: Mr. Marcus Carmichael and Mr. Paul Lister
Bookings: Havant & Waterlooville: None
Chelmsford City: Tony Thompson (74, delaying the restart of play)
Scorers: Havant & Waterlooville: Bradley Bubb (36), Josh Huggins (59)
Chelmsford City: Christian Smith (27, penalty), Marvin Ekpiteta (44), Rohdell Gordon (71)
City Man of the Match: Tony Thompson